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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings


Teaching with Parables: Mark 4:1-9, 13-20

Focus Passage: Mark 4:1-9, 13-20 (NIV)

Immediately before sharing the parable of the farmer scattering seed, both Mark and Matthew introduce this portion of their gospels with an interesting statement. Mark transitions into the parable by saying “He taught them many things by parables…” (v. 2a)

Matthew transitions into this section by saying, “Then he told them many things in parables…” (v. 3a)

Both gospel writers then start into sharing about the parable of the farmer scattering his seed.

I don’t believe it is an accident or a coincidence that both Matthew and Mark place this parable as the first one immediately following their introductory statement. The reason I believe this is because immediately before sharing what the parable means, Jesus makes an equally interesting statement that is relevant for our “parables” discussion.

Mark captures this transition statement by telling us Jesus rhetorically asks the disciples, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” (v. 13)

Both Mark and Matthew included this parable to open up Jesus’ big shift into teaching with parables. While this may not have been Jesus’ first parable He ever shared, it seemed to fit both gospel writers’ narratives to include it here before sharing more of Jesus’ parables.

Jesus’ shift into teaching with parables is a significant shift for us to pay attention to. All too often, when communicating, we feel that the information is enough – and sometimes sharing our information is all that is needed to inspire life change. But this only happens when there is something prompting the person to change from their own past and experience.

When Jesus shifted into using parables, He opened the door for multiple layers of meaning, and He began speaking to multiple audiences at different levels of education simultaneously. By creating stories that had characters illustrating the truths Jesus wanted us to learn, Jesus becomes a role model for us when communicating.

The parable of the farmer scattering seed has so many applications that it is startling to think about. While it touches on spiritual truth, it also shares how people who hear any message or any information can process it before applying or rejecting it. It opens the door for us to understand that some information, regardless of how it is packaged, will never reach a percentage of people who are unwilling to learn or change.

But the real brilliance of using parables or stories is that they get remembered. Whether we realize it or not, most of Jesus’ teachings that we remember are the ones that have been wrapped within parable and/or stories. In the introduction to Jesus’ parables, Mark expands our perspective about Jesus teaching with parables, and it is something that everyone of us can use when communicating with others.

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